A Peterborough referee made his Wembley debut on Saturday (March 3).
Peterborough Referees Association secretary Neil Smith came to the rescue when the original referee Mike Jones injured his calf only moments before kick-off at Tottenham’s Premier League clash against Huddersfield Town.
Smith and Peterborough Referees Association chairman Rob Windle were at the game as guests of referee Jones and after the designated fourth official Kevin Friend stepped up to take over the whistle duties, the call went out for a qualified referee to replace Friend as fourth official.
Jones tracked Smith down and Friend invited Smith to fill the role.
Smith, who has been invited to take charge of the last ever Peterborough FA Senior Cup Final in May at the Abax Stadium, was shocked to be invited to step in but relished the opportunity to live out every referee’s dream to officiate at Wembley.
It was a different end to the week than he expected after his Peterborough League Division Two League match between Netherton United ‘A’ and Ketton Reserves was cancelled due to the snow.
Smith said: “I was grateful to Kevin Friend, the replacement referee, having confidence in me and suggesting I should be given the opportunity.”
Windle added: “We knew one day we’d get one of our members to the Premier League but it’s happened sooner than planned. It sends out a great boost to our fellow referees that anything is possible. We are delighted that Neil had that opportunity and acted with great professionalism in the role.”
The next opportunity for those hoping to take up the whistle and one day possibly officiate at Wembley is during the May Bank Holiday week on the Embankment. For course details go to www.northamptonshirefa.com